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UCaaS Providers

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Nextiva Office logo
 
Winner of the "Product of the Year" award by Internet Telephony magazine for the last 4 years running, Nextiva's Business VoIP solutions offer small businesses enterprise-level telephony features at an extremely affordable price point.... Read More
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Winner of the "Product of the Year" award by Internet Telephony magazine for the last 4 years running, Nextiva's Business VoIP solutions offer small businesses enterprise-level telephony features at an extremely affordable price point.... Read More
 
Virtual Office by 8x8 logo
 
Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read More
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Virtual Office is a collection of comprehensive web-based business VoIP solutions from offered by 8x8. Enterprise grade phone service, virtual meetings, mobile applications, virtual contact centers and more are available to help companies... Read More
 
Vonage Business Solutions logo
 
Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based unified communication solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to any internet... Read More
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Vonage Business Solutions is a cloud-based unified communication solution suitable for small and midsize companies. The solution offers a business phone system that enables businesses to connect their VoIP phone system to any internet... Read More
 
Jive PBX logo
 
Jive Communications delivers a cloud-based unified communication solution to organizations of all sizes across the U.S. Jive Hosted PBX which includes integrated products for business VoIP, video conferencing and contact center are... Read More
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Jive Communications delivers a cloud-based unified communication solution to organizations of all sizes across the U.S. Jive Hosted PBX which includes integrated products for business VoIP, video conferencing and contact center are... Read More
 
RingCentral Office logo
 
RingCentral Office is a cloud-based business phone solution that offers business communication tools and helps to optimize communications for voice, fax and text. Core features of the solution include conferencing, auto-recording and... Read More
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RingCentral Office is a cloud-based business phone solution that offers business communication tools and helps to optimize communications for voice, fax and text. Core features of the solution include conferencing, auto-recording and... Read More

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MegaPath logo
 
MegaPath is Business Voip software that works with medium to large-size businesses in any industry. The system offers companies Internet connectivity, unified communications, security services, managed networking services, and more. With... Read More
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MegaPath is Business Voip software that works with medium to large-size businesses in any industry. The system offers companies Internet connectivity, unified communications, security services, managed networking services, and more. With... Read More
 
ShoreTel Sky logo
 
ShoreTel is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable efficient information flow within the organization. ShoreTel is a managed hosted VoIP solution that configures and manages everything... Read More
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ShoreTel is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable efficient information flow within the organization. ShoreTel is a managed hosted VoIP solution that configures and manages everything... Read More
 
Business Voice logo
 
Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read More
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Business Voice is a cloud-based VoiP solution created by PanTerra, which allows users to take or make calls from their office phone number, communicate with their team, and have file access, all from any device with an internet connection,... Read More
 
inContact Hosted Call Center logo
 
inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
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inContact is a SaaS-based call center software that helps businesses to maximizes the quality of leads and minimizes the cost of client interaction. The solution comprises of many features required to process inbound support requests... Read More
 
Five9 Cloud Contact Center logo
 
Five9 Call Center software enables agents to manage inbound, outbound, blended or multi-channel contact centers.  The smart dialer features help agents handle their live prospects. An intelligent routing tool routes calls to agents... Read More
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Five9 Call Center software enables agents to manage inbound, outbound, blended or multi-channel contact centers.  The smart dialer features help agents handle their live prospects. An intelligent routing tool routes calls to agents... Read More

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UNIVERGE 3C logo
 
UNIVERGE 3C, NEC’s software-based IP-PBX, is a sophisticated platform for unified communications and collaboration. Its comprehensive functionality helped it earn the 2014 Internet Telephony Product of the Year award from technology... Read More
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UNIVERGE 3C, NEC’s software-based IP-PBX, is a sophisticated platform for unified communications and collaboration. Its comprehensive functionality helped it earn the 2014 Internet Telephony Product of the Year award from technology... Read More
 
XO Hosted PBX logo
 
XO Communications is a provider of network services that offers a cloud-based phone system, XO Hosted PBX, designed for businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees. In addition to hosting VoIP applications, XO also offers SIP trunking services... Read More
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XO Communications is a provider of network services that offers a cloud-based phone system, XO Hosted PBX, designed for businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees. In addition to hosting VoIP applications, XO also offers SIP trunking services... Read More
 
Broadview OfficeSuite logo
 
Broadview Networks’ OfficeSuite is a cloud-based phone system that offers a number of unified communications features. This solution is scalable, and can meet the needs of very small businesses (three or fewer employees) as well... Read More
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Broadview Networks’ OfficeSuite is a cloud-based phone system that offers a number of unified communications features. This solution is scalable, and can meet the needs of very small businesses (three or fewer employees) as well... Read More
 
Digium Switchvox logo
 
Digium, the developer of Asterisk (a widely used open-source telephony platform), offers a phone system known as Switchvox, which is available both as a Web-based and on-premise solution. Businesses with multiple locations can also... Read More
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Digium, the developer of Asterisk (a widely used open-source telephony platform), offers a phone system known as Switchvox, which is available both as a Web-based and on-premise solution. Businesses with multiple locations can also... Read More
 
Windstream Virtual PBX VoIP logo
 
Windstream is a provider of network services for business communications, including a suite of cloud-based applications for voice communications known as Windstream Virtual PBX VoIP. Windstream offers SIP trunking for businesses that... Read More
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Windstream is a provider of network services for business communications, including a suite of cloud-based applications for voice communications known as Windstream Virtual PBX VoIP. Windstream offers SIP trunking for businesses that... Read More

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OnSIP Hosted VoIP logo
 
OnSIP Hosted PBX by Junction Networks is a cloud-based phone system that includes standard PBX features, such as auto attendants and voicemail-to-email. Unified communications (UC) applications are also available, such as a browser-based... Read More
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OnSIP Hosted PBX by Junction Networks is a cloud-based phone system that includes standard PBX features, such as auto attendants and voicemail-to-email. Unified communications (UC) applications are also available, such as a browser-based... Read More
 
ThinkingPhones logo
 
ThinkingPhones is a cloud-based phone system developed by Thinking Phone Networks suited for organizations with over 5,000 employees. This solution also offers SIP trunking for businesses that need a single-vendor VoIP solution.  ThinkingPhones... Read More
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ThinkingPhones is a cloud-based phone system developed by Thinking Phone Networks suited for organizations with over 5,000 employees. This solution also offers SIP trunking for businesses that need a single-vendor VoIP solution.  ThinkingPhones... Read More
 
Masergy UCaaS logo
 
Masergy is a provider of cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS). Though Masergy UCaaS is a cloud-based system, it can be integrated with existing on-premise IP PBX equipment for businesses that want hybrid deployments. Masergy... Read More
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Masergy is a provider of cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS). Though Masergy UCaaS is a cloud-based system, it can be integrated with existing on-premise IP PBX equipment for businesses that want hybrid deployments. Masergy... Read More
 
Zultys MX System logo
 
Zultys offers a line of unified communications (UC) solutions and phone system equipment known as the Zultys MX Series. Unlike IP-based phone systems that depend on third-party IP phones, Zultys also offers a proprietary line of IP... Read More
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Zultys offers a line of unified communications (UC) solutions and phone system equipment known as the Zultys MX Series. Unlike IP-based phone systems that depend on third-party IP phones, Zultys also offers a proprietary line of IP... Read More
 
Alteva Hosted VoIP logo
 
Alteva is a provider of telecommunications services that offers a cloud-based business phone system called Alteva Hosted VoIP. Alteva also offers SIP trunking (a service that connects calls between VoIP systems and the traditional... Read More
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Alteva is a provider of telecommunications services that offers a cloud-based business phone system called Alteva Hosted VoIP. Alteva also offers SIP trunking (a service that connects calls between VoIP systems and the traditional... Read More

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Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: August 15, 2017


“Unified communications” (UC) is a buzzword for technologies that connect voice, email, text messaging, instant messaging (IM) and other business communication channels through intuitive user interfaces and software integrations. UC software systems focus communications functionality around the end user and provide a consistent experience across multiple devices (laptops, IP phones, smartphones, tablets, headsets etc.).

Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), meanwhile, is simply a term for cloud-based UC, which is typically delivered on a subscription basis (in other words, you pay per-month rates for user licenses instead of one-time license fees).

This guide is intended to help you research UCaaS solutions for your organization. It covers the following topics:

What Are Unified Communications and UCaaS?
On-Premise UC, UCaaS and Hybrid Deployment Models
UCaaS Functionality
Key Considerations for Buyers

What Are Unified Communications and UCaaS?

Traditional business phone systems primarily focused on managing the voice channel. This created a disjointed experience for employees who had to use other applications for email, instant messaging and so on. Moreover, these systems didn’t offer the flexible configuration settings users need to personalize their various communication methods. Even worse, legacy phone systems were difficult to integrate with other types of business software.

UC emerged around the turn of the millennium, as phone systems designed for VoIP service began to evolve in response to these issues. Unlike traditional phone systems, UC systems put users at the heart of communications. These systems allowed users to manage all workplace communications from a single system with a unified interface, accessible through tablets, smartphones, laptops and a range of other devices.


iPad video conferencing with ShoreTel Mobility 8

In addition to streamlining the user experience across devices, UC systems and cloud-based UCaaS systems also help users manage communications by providing real-time control over their contact preferences (e.g., whether they’re available for a phone conversation). Moreover, UC and UCaaS systems can integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, accounting systems and other vital software categories to add communications capabilities to workflows involving multiple types of software.

The net result in successful UC implementation: new possibilities for collaboration throughout your organization. UC can also reduce the costs associated with using multiple communication systems. For example, instead of paying for a phone system, a video conferencing system and a stand-alone audio conferencing service, under UC, businesses only need a single communications provider.

Here are the most important communications channels managed by UC and UCaaS software systems:

This is just a high-level overview of the basic modes of communication handled by these systems; it is not an exhaustive listing of capabilities. UC and UCaaS systems are capable of extensive functionality and are quite technically complex, with administrator manuals that can be thousands of pages long.

The first UC systems required the deployment of physical hardware, such as servers and switches, on businesses’ premises. Now, organizations can choose between deploying UC on-premise, in the cloud (UCaaS) or both.

On-Premise UC, UCaaS and Hybrid Deployment

The choice between UCaaS and on-premise UC is an important one. Whereas UC was once confined to enterprises with very deep pockets, UCaaS providers make the technology affordable for a much wider range of organizations by significantly cutting upfront costs. UCaaS solutions can also be easier to manage for organizations with limited IT resources.

On the other hand, on-premise UC systems have disaster survivability benefits: They allow for redundant connections to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) for maintaining service during Internet outages.

Some UC and UCaaS providers allow for cloud deployments at certain sites (such as branch locations) and on-premise deployments at others (such as campuses). This is known as the hybrid deployment model.

In the hybrid model, even though the system has been deployed in different ways across multiple sites, it’s still a single system that can be centrally administered (typically, from the main campus). In addition to survivability benefits, hybrid deployments allow businesses to continue using legacy communications equipment in which they’ve already invested heavily.

You’ll need to factor in networking requirements, legacy investments and organizational structure along with costs when deciding whether to go with on-premise, UCaaS or hybrid deployment.

The systems listed on this page are all UCaaS products.

UCaaS Functionality

The following table lists some additional capabilities of UC and UCaaS systems:

Administrator console Administrators have a unified interface for controlling applications and features, as well as for managing the organization’s dial plan across multiple locations and networks.
Desktop client Clients are installed on end users’ desktops or laptops. Users can communicate across multiple channels, and manage both contact preferences and call routing preferences via the client.
Mobile client Extends major communication channels, such as voice calling, instant messaging, email and conferencing, to mobile devices. Users can make and receive calls with mobile devices using their work numbers. Mobile clients also allow users to access the system remotely to manage settings and preferences.
Single identity number Users make and receive calls using a single work number, regardless of whether they’re communicating on a softphone, headset, IP desk phone, smartphone, tablet etc.
Mass notification UC systems can handle mass notifications in emergency scenarios with capabilities such as SMS blasting.
API Most UC platforms offer APIs for extending the functionality of the system through the development of custom applications or integrations.


Buddy list in Nextiva’s VoIP App Interface

Key Considerations for Buyers

The UC marketplace is complex and continually evolving. Keep the following considerations in mind while evaluating vendors to home in on the systems that will best meet your needs.

  • Integrations with office productivity suites. Increasingly, UCaaS providers are developing pre-built integrations with popular office productivity suites, including Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work. (Such integrations were once a niche filled by middleware vendors.) If you’re already locked into the Google or Microsoft ecosystem, look for vendors that have already done the work of integration so you don’t have to.
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  • Combined UC/contact center deployments. Some UCaaS providers also specialize in deployments for multi-channel contact centers (those that handle communications channels such as email, SMS text, instant messaging, live chat, social media etc.). These vendors can deploy a contact center system that integrates seamlessly with the UC system used by the rest of your organization. Example vendors include RingCentral, ShoreTel, Nextiva, 8x8 and Jive.
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  • Conferencing requirements. The continued evolution of Web conferencing has vastly reduced the costs and technological complexity of both audio and video conferencing. However, UC solutions still differ in the conferencing capabilities they offer users. For instance, not all vendors’ mobile clients can support multi-party video conferencing on tablets and smartphones. Others are limited in their Web conferencing features.

    In particular, the use of WebRTC (an API for browser-based video conferencing) is still evolving. Vendors are actively developing solutions based on WebRTC, while solutions already on the market have implemented it to widely varying degrees. Make sure your short list only includes vendors that offer the conferencing features you need to support your business’s collaboration styles.

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